Simply counting the number of patent infringement lawsuits filed may not tell the whole story of the US patent system, but a sudden and sharp drop in the number of new case filings is still news. Lex Machina notes that the number of new infringement suits filed in January, 2014, was the lowest monthly total since 2011.
There are plenty of caveats that should go with this bit of news, of course, and one month does not make a trend. Even if the January numbers do represent a downward trend in patent infringement suit filings, the totals may still be above (or below) the theoretical optimal amount of patent litigation for our economy. Lex Machina’s numbers do cast at least some doubt on the notion that patent infringement lawsuits are increasing in number, however.
One month of data probably will not change anyone’s mind, at least not anyone with strong Bayesian priors. Nevertheless, anyone who actually knows that they have strong Bayesian priors should welcome another data point.